A Southwest Colorado Road Trip in the Fall

Without a doubt, experiencing southwest Colorado in autumn is one of my top 10 travel experiences

Fall is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start planning your leaf-peeping road trips.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where green reigns supreme all year long, so autumn was a new experience for me when I moved to Colorado in 2000. And it turns out that I am a big, big fan.

Last fall was one of the most amazing I had ever experienced. The color was vivid, diverse and lasted for a long time. Two years ago I visited Telluride in early October. The colors were still popping and I was simply blown away by the beauty of area.

The drive between Ridgway and Telluride should be on every leaf peeper’s list.

Scenery between Ridgway and Telluride

Start in Ouray. Once you arrive in town spend the rest of your day soaking in the hot springs pool. There are a number of great lodging establishments available. The Matterhorn Inn’s modern, renovated rooms are top notch and The Ouray Chalet, family owned since the 1970s, has an Economy Room option that can’t be beat. If a bed and breakfast is more your style, the Secret Garden is the spot for you.

The next morning, after fueling up at the Roast & Toast, a new café specializing in local ingredients, hit the road to Telluride. If you want a big breakfast with a Cajun spin, try Cavello’s instead.

Be prepared to make a stop at the overlook just outside of Ridgway on the left hand side of the road. This spot will give you a spectacular view of the Dallas Range, part of the San Juans, some of the most photographed mountains in the world. During autumn this is a popular place with professional photographers. When I stopped, six photogs were already snapping away as the early evening sunshine lit up the trees and mountains.

A couple days later when I drove back by in the morning, photographers were once again lined up at the overlook, capturing photographs of the Dallas Range covered in newly fallen snow.

The view from The Peaks Resort in Telluride, Colorado in the fall

Once in Telluride I recommend staying at the The Peak’s Resort & Spa. Book a room facing the ski resort. The mountain colors will dazzle and you won’t even have to leave your patio.

Riding the gondola in Telluride in the fall

Looking down on Mountain Village in Telluride in the fall

Be sure to ride the free gondola into town. On my fall trip it was like riding through a tunnel of shimmering gold. Grab dinner at Smuggler’s Brew Pub and ask your knowledgeable server about the perfect beer to pair with your meal.

Without a doubt, experiencing southwest Colorado in autumn is one of my top 10 travel experiences. 

See also: Tom Cruise's $59 Million Telluride Home

Categories: The Heidi Guide